Iran-US tensions: All the latest updates

Iran-US tensions: All the latest updates

Iran-US tensions: All the latest updates

(Al Jazeera)Fears of war between the United States and Iran have intensified after a US drone was shot down by Iranian forces.

Washington and Tehran disputed the circumstances of the drone shootdown, with Iran saying the unmanned spy plane was downed after it encroached on Iranian airspace, but the US said the aircraft was hit over international territory.

The incident marked the first direct Iranian-claimed attack on US assets and came amid heightened tensions, unleashed by US President Donald Trump's decision last year to withdraw from an international accord that curbed Tehran's nuclear programme.

It was also the latest in an escalating series of incidents in the Gulf since mid-May, including suspected attacks on six tankers, and has prompted international concern alarm that the standoff could escalate into an open confrontation.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, June 27:

US tells NATO it wants to avoid war with Iran

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told NATO allies that the United States did not want to go to war with Iran but said it could not tolerate any further incidents, according to allied diplomats present.

After speaking for several minutes to NATO defence ministers in a closed-door session, Esper was warned by France not to involve the NATO alliance in any military mission in the Gulf.

Together with Germany and other European allies, France made a plea to uphold the Iran nuclear accord.

Iran won't exceed uranium stockpile limit on Thursday

Iran will not exceed a uranium stockpile limit agreed under a nuclear deal with world powers, contrary to what Tehran said earlier this month, according to a diplomatic source in Vienna.

"They won't exceed it today," the source told AFP news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source suggested there might be a "political reason" for this, given the intensified efforts by European governments in recent days to de-escalate tensions in the Gulf region.

There was no indication to suggest the agreed limit would be exceeded this weekend either, the source added, underlining that Tehran can suspend its uranium enrichment activities at any time.

Iran said 10 days ago that it would surpass the agreed 300-kilogramme (660-pound) reserve of enriched uranium on June 27 because it no longer felt bound by the 2015 deal which the United States unilaterally pulled out of in May 2018.

Vienna is home to the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA, which is responsible for monitoring whether Iran is sticking to the terms of the nuclear deal.

European, US diplomats meet in Paris for Iran talks

The US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, is meeting with top French, German and British diplomats in Paris for talks on the Persian Gulf crisis at a time when European powers are trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal struck with Tehran.

European countries want to avoid a further escalation in tensions between the US and Iran and are trying to persuade Iran not to leave the nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year.

On Wednesday, Iran's UN ambassador urged Britain, France and Germany to take "timely" practical steps to preserve the agreement, "which is now in critical condition".

The three are finalising efforts to put in operation a complicated barter-type system known as INSTEX to keep up trade with Iran and avoid US sanctions, as part of efforts to keep the nuclear deal alive.

France's Macron to ask Trump to drop some Iran sanctions to help talks

French President Emmanuel Macron said he will try to convince US President Donald Trump to suspend some sanctions on Iran to allow for negotiations to de-escalate the crisis in the region.

"I want to convince Trump that it is in his interest to re-open a negotiation process (and) go back on certain sanctions to give negotiations a chance," Macron told reporters on the train from Tokyo to Kyoto.

The French leader will meet his US counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit this weekend.

Macron said the idea would be to begin a discussion and set up the parameters of talks ranging from Iran's nuclear activities to its wider role in the region.

"We'd give ourselves a few months," Macron said.

Call to 'resist' US as Iranians mourn Iraq war dead

Iranian authorities called for "resistance" against archfoe the United States as large crowds mourned soldiers who died in the war with Iraq more than three decades ago.

Iran regularly organises funerals for soldiers killed in the 1980-1988 war whose remains are either returned by its neighbour or found in former combat areas, which were mainly in Iran.

Mourners gathered in front of Tehran University around marquees erected on Enghelab (Revolution) Street to shelter the coffins of nearly 150 "loyal companions" under a scorching sun, according to AFP news journalists.

Iranian media reported that the dead included two "volunteers" who went to fight in Syria where Iran provides military support to President Bashar al-Assad.

Of the 148 soldiers killed in the Iran-Iraq war, only 35 have been identified, the reports said.

Portraits of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were seen among the crowd along with white, red and pink gladiolas.

"It is our duty to listen to these messages of greatness, perseverance and resistance that awaken in us the sense of responsibility," the head of the country's judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, told the crowd, referring to the "testaments" of soldiers before going into battle.

"We will revitalise ourselves with the blood of the martyrs. It is this blood that has watered the great fruitful tree of the Islamic revolution," he added.

Iraq will not take sides amid Middle East tension - deputy PM

Iraq will not take sides amid tensions in the Middle East, the Iraqi deputy prime minister said, as a row between the United States and Iran escalated.

"We shall not align ourselves with certain countries or be party in an alliance against others," Thamer Ghadhban, who is also Iraq's oil minister, said in London.

Recent events in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf of Oman, "posed a serious threat to peace in the region and the free and uninterrupted passage of oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz," he told the CWC Iraq Petroleum Conference.

Macron says he warned Iran's Rouhani about breaking nuclear commitments

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Iran not to quit its 2015 nuclear deal or give signals that it intended to do so, and said he would discuss efforts to avoid military escalation with US President Donald Trump.

European countries, which disagreed with the US decision to withdraw from the pact but share US concerns about Iranian behaviour, have been caught in the middle, expressing increasing concern that a mistake on either side could trigger war.

Macron said he had two priorities: keeping Iran inside the nuclear deal and avoiding military escalation.

"Tensions are growing and for me the first element is that there is no exit from the framework. The second thing, and I will discuss it with president (Trump) tomorrow, is to do everything to avoid a military escalation," Macron said.

"I had a conversation with President (Hassan) Rouhani a couple of days ago and I indicated that any exit from the accord would be an error and any signals in that direction would be an error," Macron told reporters.

Iran will be a focus as G-20 leaders meet

British Prime Minister Theresa May says G20 leaders must show solidarity against Iran but focus on the "urgent de-escalation of tensions" with Tehran.

"The international community must stand together against Iran's deeply destabilising activity," May said ahead of a G20 summit in Japan.

"Our priority should be the urgent de-escalation of tensions and we need to find a diplomatic solution to the current situation."

Iran warns US of stronger reaction if its borders violated again

Iran warned the United States against violation of its borders, with parliament speaker Ali Larijani threatening a stronger reaction, the Tasnim news agency said, a week after Tehran shot down a US drone, spiking tension between them.

"The downing of their drone was a good experience for them to avoid any aggression against our borders," the semi-official agency quoted Larijani as saying.

"Iran's reaction will be stronger if they repeat their mistake of violating our borders."

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